The sound that comes from the steelpan instrument is made by striking the pan with sticks. The sticks are short pieces of dowels that have rubber tips at one end. The sound is produced when a stick strikes the surface of a note on the pan.

In the 1940s the introduction of rubber on the sticks was an important landmark in the history of pan, as prior to this the instruments were played with bare sticks or the hand.  

Other names for sticks are beaters, pansticks or mallets.

Wood is the general material used for making sticks. Other materials used for sticks are aluminium or plastic tubing.

 The tips are usually made from rubber tubing.  


Prior to this, strips of rubber, similar to that of bicycle inner tubing, were wrapped around one end of the sticks.  The number of times you wrap the rubber around a stick and the length of the stick would determine which pan it was being made for.

The type of rubber used today is determined by its texture in order to obtain the best sound.

Each pan uses different size sticks ranging from the smallest for the tenor and the largest for the bass. Using the wrong type of sticks would create the wrong type of tone, hampers playing and could eventually put the pan out of tune. Here is a guide to stick measurements:


Tenor Sticks



length 15-18cm            

diameter 1.1-1.3cm

tip diameter 1.5-1.7cm


Second Tenor Sticks

Double Tenor Sticks



length  17-20cm                                                     aluminium

diameter 1.1-1.3cm

tip diameter 1.8-2cm


Guitar Sticks



length 18-20cm                                                       aluminium      

diameter 1.2-1.4cm

tip diameter 2.5-3cm


Cello Sticks




length 18-20cm

diameter 1.2-1.4cm

tip diameter 2.5-3cm


Bass Sticks



length 30-35cm                                                               aluminium

diameter 1.2-1.4cm

ball diameter 6-7cm


It is advisable to replace the tips of sticks periodically or when the rubber begins to fray. Failure to do this will result in creating a harsh sound and again could eventually put the pan out of tune.


Replace worn sticks before they damage your instrument!